Researchers combat prostate cancer at cellular level

March 20, 2015 by Ayleen Barbel Fattal, Florida International University
Biomolecular Sciences Institute Director Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh with one of her students working in the lab. Credit: Florida International University

Florida International University scientists are battling prostate cancer at the cellular level. Researchers from FIU's Biomolecular Sciences Institute (BSI) believe they can eradicate prostate cancer that returns in patients who were previously treated by castration. Castration-resistant prostate cancer has no known cure, with 75 percent of patients dying within the first five years of onset. 

The problem lies at the very core of the human body—DNA. When damage occurs within a person's DNA, it can cause a mutation in the DNA sequence. This is typically fixed by a process called DNA repair. The DNA repair function exists in all cells. It is typically a good thing, except when it comes to cancer, where the repair actually helps the bad cells thrive. To make matters worse, DNA repair in occurs at a higher and more efficient rate than in normal cells. So while go through a natural life cycle in which they replicate and eventually die off, cancer cells just keep multiplying.

The BSI researchers believe that by stopping the DNA repair, damage will build up in the cancer cells causing them to die, essentially killing the . Experts in drug screening, DNA repair and cancer biology, BSI Director Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh along with biochemist Yuan Liu, both from the College of Arts & Sciences, and cell biologist Irina Agoulnik from the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine are leading the research.

"It has been shown that inhibiting DNA repair within cancer cells slows tumor growth," Tse-Dinh said. "Our proposed research will test a variety of compounds to determine which ones are the best inhibitors of DNA repair to slow tumor growth."

The researchers hope to establish a novel method for screening and determining which compounds will most effectively block DNA repair in cancer cells without affecting normal cell growth.

"We anticipate that within the timeframe of this project, we will discover a new class of compounds that can be developed to treat advanced prostate cancer disease," Agoulnik said.

According to the researchers, it is likely that the compounds identified in this study as affecting DNA repair may also be effective in curing other cancers and relieving the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases.

The institute has been awarded a $50,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Broward to fund the research project.

"With the support from the Community Foundation of Broward grant, we will develop an innovative method for measuring DNA repair capacity in prostate cancer cells that will be used for screening small molecules to reduce DNA repair capacity in cancer cells," Liu said.

Dedicated to advancing nanotechnology and furthering the fields of cancer biology and neurodegenerative disorders, BSI is a collaboration of FIU's College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering & Computing, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. The Community Foundation of Broward award is part of the organization's Ignite! Innovation Grant Program created in an effort to support innovative ideas that solve community problems. Grants are awarded to organizations that lead boldly and challenge themselves to present innovative and unique projects. 

Explore further: Study shows why some brain cancers resist treatment

Related Stories

Study shows why some brain cancers resist treatment

March 2, 2015
Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center may have discovered why some brain cancer patients develop resistance to standard treatments including radiation and the chemotherapy agent temozolomide.

World-first cancer drugs could work in larger group of patients

March 19, 2015
A pioneering class of drugs that target cancers with mutations in the BRCA breast cancer genes could also work against tumours with another type of genetic fault, a new study suggests.

Sabotage as therapy: Aiming lupus antibodies at vulnerable cancer cells

September 2, 2014
Yale Cancer Center researchers may have discovered a new way of harnessing lupus antibodies to sabotage cancer cells made vulnerable by deficient DNA repair.

Researchers find protein that fuels repair of treatment-resistant cancer cells

July 31, 2014
Imagine you're fighting for your life but no matter how hard you hit, your opponent won't go down.

Alternative DNA repair mechanism could provide better treatment for neuroblastoma in kids

January 21, 2015
Researchers at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital have identified a promising new target for developing new therapies for kids with high-risk neuroblastoma, according to a new study published in Molecular ...

Recommended for you

Scientists trained a computer to classify breast cancer tumors

November 19, 2018
Using technology similar to the type that powers facial and speech recognition on a smartphone, researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have trained a computer to analyze breast ...

A molecule for fighting muscular paralysis

November 19, 2018
Myotubular myopathy is a severe genetic disease that leads to muscle paralysis from birth and results in death before two years of age. Although no treatment currently exists, researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), ...

New drug discovery could halt spread of brain cancer

November 19, 2018
The tissues in our bodies largely are made of fluid. It moves around cells and is essential to normal body function.

Use genetic data to predict the best time of day to give radiotherapy to breast cancer patients, say researchers

November 19, 2018
A new clinical study led by the University of Leicester and conducted in the HOPE clinical trials facility at Leicester's Hospitals has revealed the pivotal role that changing the time of day that a patient receives radiotherapy ...

New blood test detects early stage ovarian cancer

November 19, 2018
Research on a bacterial toxin first discovered in Adelaide has led to the development a new blood test for the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer—a disease which kills over 1000 Australian women and 150,000 globally each ...

New dual-action cancer-killing virus

November 19, 2018
Scientists have equipped a virus that kills carcinoma cells with a protein so it can also target and kill adjacent cells that are tricked into shielding the cancer from the immune system.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.